Doug OhlemeierMichael Lacey, director of sales and marketing for Wimauma-based Tomato Thyme Corp., and Amanda Wigley, marketing, display some of the company’s Ruby Ripes-branded tomatoes. Tomato Thyme is increasing acreage to meet growing retail demand for its vine-ripe tomatoes.WIMAUMA, Fla. — Tomato Thyme Corp., is increasing acreage as more retailers increase orders.
The grower-shipper of Tasti-Lee and other tomatoes also is adding retail customers.
Tomato Thyme, which grows the University of Florida-developed Tasti-Lee tomato, is adding acreage and searching for places to grow them, said Michael Lacey, director of sales and marketing.
It increased acreage by 100 acres each in its Sarasota and West Palm Beach growing regions.
It also grows Tasti-Lees and other rounds, grapes and cherry tomatoes in central, northern and southern Florida; Dayton, Tenn.; Sylvia, N.C.; Albion, N.Y.; and Eau Claire, Mich.
This summer it entered the Michigan and New York deals to provide local product to its Northeastern retail customers, Lacey said.
On the retail front, Tomato Thyme in early November began shipping to Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway Inc.’s U.S. stores and is seeing interest from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., he said.
“People are taking notice that this tomato has some legs on it and has some validity to the flavor profile for a standalone tomato in the produce aisle.”
Tomato Thyme also grows Red Diamond-branded grapes, cherries, romas and Ruby Ripes-branded specialty cocktail tomatoes.
It merchandises its Handy Candy-branded grape tomatoes in standalone retail displays.
Handy Candy tomatoes are licensed through Birmingham, Ala.-based Handy Candy LLC.
The Tasti-Lee tomatoes are a hybrid round beefsteak-style tomato licensed through Bejo Seeds Inc., Oceano, Calif., and grown, packed and distributed by Tomato Thyme as well as Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, Calif.; Flavor 1st Growers & Packers, Hendersonville, N.C.; Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, Fla.; and Lucky’s Real Tomatoes, New York.